We haven't stayed at the Disney value level resorts in several years. Previously we'd done Pop Century a few times, as well as two of the All Star resorts. However once we upgraded to moderate level with Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs, we didn't want to take that step back down.
However Disney opened up a brand new value resort this year, Art of Animation, that looked to be amazing and was supposed to be better than the average value resorts. We were super excited to try it out, especially since we'd be able to have a family suite. We had a large group going, so having the master bedroom and two bathrooms was a good idea.
The hotel turned out to be BEAUTIFUL. However, I'm sorry to report that it's still a value resort, and you get what you pay for. Aesthetically, the resort is top notch. However the service, at least for us, was pretty bad.
The first night, we checked in around 8:30. I had booked a pack & play when I booked the package, I called the week before we arrived to verify I had it on my reservation, and I asked for it again when we checked in. Three hours and two more requests later, it was 11:30 and I was just getting the pack and play to be able to put a crying and exhausted Austin down to sleep. Not a great start but easily overlooked if nothing else went wrong.
Unfortunately, other things did go wrong. The resort opened up in May, and we had a broken lamp in the room. (The lamp had 3 hanging glass bulbs, and the bottom one was hanging off by wires, dangerous!). A minor issue that I wouldn't even mention was that we had one bottle of shampoo and no conditioner/lotion/etc for the entire suite. The next morning, the safe was not working. I called to the front desk and was told that it would take 15 minutes to reset itself, but we were on our way out to the parks. At this point, I freaked out. This wasn't the Disney service we were used to on previous trips (we go every year), and I told on the lady at the front desk that I was pissed and listed the reasons, including the shampoo issue. She sent security up right away to fix the safe, and we left for the day.
When we returned to the room later that evening, not only had the room not been serviced (though the lamp had been fixed), but housekeeping left a bag of about a zillion shampoo bottles hanging on our suite door. A bit of a "here's your damn shampoo." Brad and I calmly walked down to the front desk and requested to speak to a manager. I will give the manager credit, she was very sweet and asked what she could do to make things start off on a better foot. We didn't ask for anything. We only wanted the service we paid for, no freebies or extras. She wrote down everything we talked about and things were much better for the rest of the trip. In fact the housekeeping manager actually inspected our room after one of the cleanings.
The actual room/suite itself was nice enough. I loved having a master bedroom to shut out the rest of the family at night. And separate bathrooms was lovely. Ours had a walk in glass shower that was roomy and waterfall shower heads that felt amazing. We had a mini kitchen, and the table that folds down into a bed was very comfy.
With regards to the food court, they've built this one too small for the size of the resort. My mom and I stayed back on Sunday night while Brad and Summer and my brother hit Halloween Horror Nights and it took us 20 minutes each to get our food. The lines were insanely long, and there was no where to move inside the food court. Additionally, the food was...not great. The deserts were fantastic, little cheesecake and cupcake samples and gelato, but the entrees were just average. There was a bit of variety, an Indian station, a create-your-own salad station, burgers and pasta, but nothing was OMG amazing when you ate it. At breakfast, the scrambled eggs were always really runny and wet and the potatoes were soggy.
On the plus side, the pool was amazing, and they also had complimentary life jackets for the babies and kids. There were activities beside the pool and movies shown on a projector at night. And of course, the resort was just fantastically designed on the outside. There were four themes and they did them so well. The Cars themed area was definitely the best, when you stepped into that area it was like being inside a movie set.
Now's a good time to bring on the pictures! (And there are A LOT). :)
First up is the Lion King area, which is where we stayed.
That's Austin running around in the bone yard.
In this area they even put crushed shells down as part of the landscaping. Definitely a major attention to detail at this resort.
On to Finding Nemo, which is where the Big Blue Pool was as well. (When you go under water you can hear the Nemo characters!).
The backs of the hotels all had sketches fitting the respective themes.
And finally, the best theme, Cars.
A few other shots from around the resort:
This is the bridge that goes between Art of Animation and Pop Century.
While I wouldn't stay here again, I am glad we got to view the beauty of it. However, you can just visit the resort any time without having to stay there, so keep that in mind, moderate & deluxe lovers. Visit for a day, take pictures, and then return to better service at your hotel :)